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Nearly a Dozen Women Groped in Williamsburg in Recent Weeks, Victims Say

By Serena Dai | June 3, 2015 3:24pm
 A woman said she was groped by a man on Jackson Street near Graham Avenue.
A woman said she was groped by a man on Jackson Street near Graham Avenue.
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DNAinfo/Serena Dai

WILLIAMSBURG — A man has groped nearly a dozen women in an area of Williamsburg in recent weeks, locals and police said.

At least two incidents reported to police of a young man suddenly grabbing women's buttocks appear to be related, according to local law enforcement sources.

On Wednesday, May 20, at roughly 8:15 a.m., a male suspect groped a 29-year-old woman's butt on Herbert Street near Humboldt Street, according to police.

Then, on Saturday, May 30, at approximately 2:30 a.m., a man groped a 25-year-old woman's crotch on Jackson Street near Humboldt Street, police said.

A local group of north Brooklyn parents said at least nine women experienced similar encounters in the same area — south of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, west of Kingsland Avenue and north of Metropolitan Avenue.

Many of them did not file reports and realized the apparent connection through a blast in a parenting email group called Brooklyn Baby Hui, said Lesley Melincoff, a member of the group who's recording the incidents.

One victim's husband snapped a photo of a man who displayed his privates at her in the area last month, and several women responded to the picture, saying he resembles a man that had groped them recently, Melincoff said.

Andrea Larsen, 36, said that a man groped her butt twice in the last week near her home on Jackson Street near Graham Avenue.

Both times, it happened between 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. as Larsen walked her dog.

Last Thursday, May 28, the man grabbed her butt as she walked on Humboldt Street near Jackson Street, Larsen said.

At that time, she turned around and screamed at him, causing him to flee, she said.

The second time on Monday, June 1, she didn't initially recognize him when she walked past him on Jackson Street near her home.

But she realized who it was when he turned around, walked up beside her and grabbed her butt again, Larsen said. He then "smirked" as she yelled at him and walked away.

"The first time, I could not understand it," Larsen said."The second time, I was pure anger, I was seeing red. It’s so intrusive."

Larsen has not yet filed a police report but is planning to do so.

Larsen and other victims described the man as being young, relatively thin, about 5-foot-8 and wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and black pants.

The crimes are categorized as forcible touching, a misdemeanor, police said.

Like Larsen, 33-year-old Caitlin Thomsen said she was headed out of her apartment in the same area around the same time of day when a man randomly slapped her butt.

It happened as she left for a run from her apartment on Skillman Avenue near Graham Avenue on Friday, May 22 at about 7:30 a.m., she said.

He didn't say anything and didn't respond when she yelled at him, Thomsen said.

"It's definitely concerning to me," Thomsen said. "This is our permanent home. I definitely want people like this guy who’s doing this to multiple women in our neighborhood to be off the streets somehow."

Capt. James Ryan, commanding officer of the 94th precinct, said he could not comment due to an ongoing investigation.

Councilman Antonio Reynoso's staffer Jennifer Gutierrez, who has been in contact with police at Melincoff's request, said that police are encouraging people to call 911 to report such incidents.

The councilman's office may also try to coordinate a neighborhood watch in the area after speaking with the parent group, she added.

"We don't want anyone to think its not a big deal," Gutierrez said. "It's a big deal. Every time."

Melincoff is still collecting incidents from local women and reaching out to local officials in hopes of making the issue known, she said.

"It’s unacceptable," she said. "People may think of a guy slapping your ass as a thing that happens in New York. But that’s enough to make women feel unsafe. We shouldn’t have to feel unsafe in our neighborhood."